By New Times
By Connor Radnovich
By Robrt L. Pela and Amy Silverman
By Ray Stern
By Keegan Hamilton
By Matthew Hendley
By Monica Alonzo
By Monica Alonzo
This incredible explanation was not borne out by the police reports.
Although DPS claimed they were just doing their job, the state police initially attempted to hide their role in Fields' arrest by involving the Mesa Police Department.
A DPS officer, posing as a reporter from this newspaper, called Terri Fields in a ruse designed to lure her to an interview at the Mesa Holiday Inn.
Once Fields was en route, the DPS intended that the Mesa police should pull her over on a routine traffic stop. This would give the cops an excuse to run a computer check and "discover" the outstanding misdemeanor warrant justifying Fields' arrest.
"He [DPS Officer Randy Oden] told me that Ms. Fields also had a suspended driver's license. I did not question Officer Oden as to why he needed to speak with Ms. Fields. He did, at this time, mention that Ms. Fields was also one of the witnesses that had testified in the Mecham impeachment hearings . . . ," reads Mesa police Sergeant Les Portee's departmental report. " . . . He said she might be driven to the Holiday Inn by her mother and questioned whether we could arrest her. I told Officer Oden that as a passenger in the vehicle, Ms. Fields was not compelled to produce any identification."
The plan by DPS to arrest Fields through subterfuge fell apart when the young woman said she wasn't interested in meeting "the press" for an interview. Frustrated, DPS stormed over to her mother's house and arrested Fields on the spot.
Sergeant Schmidt has a glib explanation for why a DPS officer would pose as a reporter from this paper.
"We tried to put her in a sterile environment and not arrest her in front of her family and friends," he said. "We always do that. You never want to arrest a person in an enclosed space like a house, and you always want them away from people like family who would react emotionally and might try to interfere."
In other words, when DPS went out of the way to arrest a young woman for missing an AA meeting, they braced themselves for a possibly violent confrontation with this single mother who worked in state government.
Polished alibis, however, do not hide the pattern of harassment directed by the state police against Mecham's supporters.
In the case of Mecham witness Christina Johnston, DPS could not claim that she simply was recognized on the witness stand by an ever-vigilant officer. The state police attempted to arrest Christina Johnston before she could testify.
On March 2, DPS Officer Jerry Dodd, assigned to the Intelligence Division, contacted Detective R. S. Ploeg with the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office. Once again, DPS attempted to get another law enforcement agency to do its bidding. This time the target was a woman who claimed she was the former lover of DPS director Milstead and had intimate knowledge of abuses within the state police.
Detective Ploeg found the DPS request so unusual that he filed a report with his superior, Sergeant W. F. Nibouar: " . . . Officer Dodd asked me if I would do him a favor. I inquired as to what the favor was, and he asked that if he could locate the woman named in the warrant, would I go out and arrest her. I asked Officer Dodd, `Since when does DPS Intelligence go out and work misdemeanor warrants?' I also made the comment, `If you guys don't have anything to do over there, we have approximately 25,000 warrants on file you can play with.' At this time there was no further mention of the warrant or individual."
Actually, the guys at DPS had lots to do. For instance, it was during this time frame that DPS Officer Don Barcello was warning state capitol employees not to allow sign-carrying protester Leon Woodward into the public cafeteria or onto the parking lot. Barcello even threatened to arrest Woodward. It was also during this time period that David Woolf, executive director of the Maricopa County Republican party heard DPS Officer Van Jackson swear and promise Woodward, "We're going to get you."
In fact, DPS was so busy during the impeachment--Colonel Milstead testified against Evan Mecham and his state police troopers terrorized the governor's supporters--that concerned legislators asked Rose Mofford to investigate the reports of abuse.
Mofford, who succeeded the deposed Mecham, dished the assignment off to her chief of staff, Andy Hurwitz.
At one point, Hurwitz had been Colonel Milstead's personal attorney. This seeming conflict did not prevent Hurwitz from accepting the task. His solution was to ask DPS to prepare a report on the matter.
Not surprisingly, the state police cleared themselves of any wrongdoing.
One year later, in April 1989, Evan Mecham announced that he once again would run for the governor's chair. Attending the press conference was Leon Woodward.
That very same month, the death threats from DPS headquarters began at Leon Woodward's house.
County Attorney Richard Romley apparently does not see any pattern in all of this.
In the hysteria to impeach Evan Mecham, Arizona stood by as DPS ran roughshod over people's rights. Apologists rationalized the arrests of witnesses by the state police, pointing out, after all, that Johnston and Fields did have outstanding misdemeanor warrants, no matter how frivolous.